PMC Board Candidate Forum

Bring PMC Ballots to the Hospital by May 3rd


Voters in the Prowers County Hospital District will cast their ballots for two Prowers Medical Center board members from the eight candidates vying for office.  The election will be held May 3rd.  The term of office is three years.  Norm Arends, the candidate for a one-year term on the board was not opposed.

Five of the eight candidates were available for a public forum hosted by Southeast Colorado Heritage Defenders, Wednesday, April 20th at the Lamar Community Building.  Kristin Kee, Jason Wisenhand, Donita King, Jay Brooks and Rick Robbins presented opening statements explaining what they hoped to bring to the PMC board and took questions from the audience.  Scott Reed, Kelli Gaines and Joe Spitz were not available that evening.

Donita King is a past employee of Prowers Medical Center.  “I want to see some positive change because Prowers Medical Center needs to grow and be a part of this community.  I will devote as much time as I can allow to learn what needs to be done and I’ll work to make sure that patients and staff are treated equally.”

Kristin Kee provided a comprehensive medical finance and billing background as a former employee of Prowers Medical Group after moving to Lamar in 2009.  “I moved through the ranks to become the medical group business manager, advocating for patients with billing issues and addressing how quickly people receive Medicaid coverage.”  She said she’d like to be a part of a change to the hospital board, working to better community partnerships for the hospital ad working to develop longterm care in the area.

Jay Brooke, a Lamar resident for 40 years, was the first executive director and CEO of High Plains Community Health Center which he helped create in the mid 1990s.  He was employed at Southeast Mental Healthy Center as a licensed clinician.  “I intend to continue the same passion I had when we worked to set up the High Plains Clinic.  We had to submit grants twice for the originating funds, but our group made it work.  Our employee numbers went from five in 1995 to 105 when I retired about six years ago.”  Brooke said he will continue to deliver quality health care to the community and will advocate for expanded health care options.

Jason Wisenhand is from Holly and was appointed as a PMC board member in February, filling a vacancy at that time.  “I have a masters decree in business administration and accounting.  As a community, we endured some horrible health issues over the past two years and on a personal level,” he stated.  Wisenhand added that he noted a lack of timely response to health issues from a patient’s point of view and he’ll work to getting policies in place that eliminate future episodes.

Rick Robbins moved to Lamar from Kansas 20 years ago and is general manager of Colorado Mills.  “Health care is essential in a community to the livelihood and health of a town,” he stated, adding that he has had issues with Prowers Medical Center in the past and uses the Scott City, KS hospital.  “I’d like to see the level pf professionalism in PMC that I’ve found there.  I want Prowers Medical Center to be my hospital and I’ll work to that end as a board member.  I have a degree in human resources and I’ll use that experience on the board.”

The forum was moderated by Heritage Foundation member, Barbara Hernandez who turned to another member, Claudia Gill to format the questions from the audience to the candidate; the first being, ‘what is the role of the PMC hospital board’.

Donita King stated a member needs to be a voice from the community to the hospital and work together to find solutions to whatever problems may develop.

Kristin Kee said a bord member should recommend changes to the Center and staff and help management grow, not from a day to day level, that’s not the board’s role, but to hold the staff accountable for proper care and professional treatment of all patients.

Jay Brooke replied that a board member needs to serve as the eyes and ears of the community and identify needs that can start from the drawing board all the way through to strategic planning and determine the best ways to implement changes.  The board, he said, sets policy, the staff follows those policies, the Chief Executive Officer works for the board and everyone else works for the CEO.

Jason Wisenhand said board members need to find the providers required to serve the community’s health needs and to credential those providers.  He favored a conservative fiscal outlook and said that it is excellent that PMC is currently debt free with just over 200 days cash on hand.  With the board as the hospital’s governing body, it needs to maintain that financial security.

Rick Robbins said the board needs to maintain medical providers, making certain that, especially in rural areas, they receive above-average compensation as a means of attracting employees and keeping them on staff.  He noted that economic groups and towns in the county are working to provide housing on a level with pay scales.  He also praised past board members for their extremely difficult work during the national pandemic.

Several questions offered by the audience were outside the medical knowledge of the candidates pertaining to, the issuance of specific medications relating to COVID-19 treatments.  Another question asked about the differences between providing comprehensive medical care versus using select care options based on a general direction of care provided by the hospital.  One dealt with each candidate’s viewpoint of the board dismissing employees over policy mandates for covid protection.  It was noted that the board does not have the authority to hire or fire employees at all.  Mayor Kirk Crespin, noting the history of competition between PMC and HPCHC, asked board members how they would specifically address that issue to bring both entities together to work for the community’s health needs in a non-competitive basis.

Election ballots must be returned to Prowers Medical Center and NOT the Prowers County Clerk’s office by 7pm on May 3rd.

The final portion of the forum allowed the two candidates for Prowers County Coroner, Jacqueline Parker and Tom Dunagan to present their backgrounds relative to the needs of the position.  That vote will not come due until the November 2022 ballot.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesCOVID-19ElectionsFeaturedHealthHot TopicsPublic Safety


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